A. P. Adamthwaite's article (March 1: A New Look For The Church in England?) prompts these comments: (1) In many parishes, probably the majority, priests are pleading with the laity to join apostolic organisations but with scant response. When the laity respond to these appeals and our societies have waiting lists for membership we can start talking about more lay influence in the Church. At present the laity are letting the clergy down all along the line.
(2) Mr, Aclamthwaite complains that he cannot take a Correspondence Course in theology. Has he never heard of the Newman Association? In this city. lectures are organised regularly on a variety of subjects but the attendance is desperately disappointing in view of the numbers of Catholic laity who could attend.
(3) Mr. Adarnthwaite wants more dialogue Masses. I travel all over the country. Everywhere I find priests enthusiastic for the dialogue Mass. Only last Sunday the celebrant turned round at the beginning of Mass and asked the congregation to join in. In spite of the fact that leaders gave out the responses in clear tones, there was only a murmur from the rest of the congregation, most of whom seemed intent on following their own private devotions. (41 Mr. Adamthwaite complains, at least by implication, of the small social influence of Catholics. Who is responsible for the meagre support given to the Catholic Social Guild?
(5) My experience-and during the past 12 years I have worked in almost every county of England and Wales-is that priests are working desperately hard, forced against their will to devote much of their energy to fund raising instead of direct work for souls, but that they are let down all the time by the smug, self-satisfied attitude of the laity. Wherever I go I attend whatever meetings are available. The story is the same everywhere-always the faithful few. the nucleus that is in everything'.
(6) A quotation from an article in Duckett's Reqister, January 1963, by Rev. Francis I. Ripley: "I most fervently believe that any and every change in the form of the Mass which may come in the future will be rendered well-nigh useless unless we priests concen trate on getting to know our people through systematically visiting them in their homes. No form of apostolate is nobler, more glorious or more worthwhile than this; none could be more stirring, none more exciting." Do we, the laity encourage our priests to visit? Do we respond to their requests when they do call on us?
J. W. Lyle
Mr Adamthwaite, in his excellent article in your current issue, entitled 'A new look for the Church in England' comments on the suggestion made in your paper, 'that there should be a lay board of consultors, to whom the Bishops could turn, for an expression of lay opinion.
Might I remind him, that as far as women arc concerned, the Hierarchy of England and Wales have done just this, when three years ago, they approved the new constitution of the National Board of Catholic Women?
This body co-ordinates the National societies of Catholic women, so that the Bishops know where to turn for the opinion of Catholic women. Our members sit on various non-Catholic and Catholic bodies, to quote one only, the Women's Consultative Council. This was set up recently by the Minister without Portfolio, in order to consult women on problems connected with our entry into the Common Market, and kindred questions.
Members of the Board work as a team, and are chosen for their expertise in the subjects under discussion. The various government departments are fully aware of our existence, and we are, again to quote Mr. Adamthwaite 'fully integrated into national life'.
Lest it might be said, we are mainly a talking shop, the Board does its best to support its corporate work, Bridget House in Ebury St., a small hostel for international girls coming here to work or study. The house has received over the past three years, 1,117 girls of 48 nationalities, as well as doing welfare work for many other non-residents. Naturally, funds are always needed. The Board was also the initiator of Family Fast Day, now passed to the Catholic Fund for Overseas development.
Evelyn White President.